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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 April 2007, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Spider-Man 3 piracy played down
Still from Spider-Man 3
Spider-Man will be released in China before the US
Sony Pictures has denied Spider-Man 3 has been pirated, and claims copies being sold in China are actually fake.

Street vendors have been found selling DVDs in the Spider-Man 3 sleeve for 10 Yuan (65p), ahead of the film's cinema release in China on 1 May.

Reuters discovered some copies featured the 2001 TV movie Earth vs The Spider, starring Dan Aykroyd, while Sony says some show Spider-Man 2 instead.

Sony said "similar hoaxes and false alarms" often occur before releases.

'Ripped off'

"Our investigation in China has revealed no case of the film being pirated to date," said Sony.

The company also suggested no evidence has been found that the film has been pirated online.

Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 3
Kirsten Dunst and Tobey Maguire are reunited in the new film

"This incident underscores one of the problems with piracy - people who buy illegal movies often get ripped off themselves," Sony added.

In recent weeks China has hit back at the US over complaints made to the World Trade Organisation that it is not doing enough to tackle piracy.

The media has been invited to high-profile events to watch millions of pirated DVDs, music CDs and software being crushed.

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